When Eurythmics released "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," it sounded different than a lot of what was being played on the radio. But figuring out why something becomes a hit can be complicated.

"Well, what is it?," the band's Dave Stewart tells UCR now. "It's not like something where everybody goes, 'Oh, well I know, you do that, that, that and there it is.' Although, nowadays, there's lots of people for the last 10 years who do that. Unfortunately, then the [music on the] radio starts to sound the same."

With "Sweet Dreams," he and vocalist Annie Lennox quickly started to recognize that they had crafted something which stood out in a different way. The single gave the duo their first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and established them as a success worldwide. They went on to sell more than 75 million albums globally as additional singles, albums and accolades piled up.

Stewart and Lennox were honored by both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for their career accomplishments in 2022. They turned out an explosive performance at the latter, which proved that their power as a unit hadn't dimmed a bit.

While Lennox has chosen to stay away from the road, her musical partner is back on the touring trail with a new project, Dave Stewart Presents Eurythmics Songbook, celebrating the 40th anniversary of their landmark Sweet Dreams album. Currently, he's playing shows that will run through late March, sharing the stage with Bryan Adams.

He's also continued to work on a variety of musical projects, including a modern rock opera with his collective, The Time Experience Project which arrived in late 2023.

During a recent conversation on Zoom, he looked back at the Sweet Dreams period and also discussed how he put together his current band to revisit his Eurythmics catalog.

"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" turned 40 last year. What are you really proud of now, when it comes to that song?
As soon as it comes on the radio, over a sound system at a festival or anywhere, there’s an instant reaction from the crowd or the listener. Sonically, the bass drum is mixed with a very tuned down drum, so it’s just a thud. I’d slept on the floor near my friend, waiting for the guy to finish building it. It was a prototype, mixed with two synthesizers playing at the same time. Most people don’t know this, they try and play it on one keyboard, but it doesn’t sound right.

Between those three tracks, it doesn’t sound like anything else. It also sounds incredibly powerful. You know, you hear the first four bars and it’s just like, bang. I think that’s the thing, really. Obviously, I love the song, but the opening of the song, without doing anything, immediately gets people to go, “Whoa, what’s that?” or cheer or jump about. [Laughs] The opening is so powerful, but so empty. It’s got massive room to breathe. There’s two synthesizers and a drum with another drum on top of it, just going boom. I’m great friends with Bootsy Collins and we’ve been making a lot of music together in the last year. We talk about “the one” and he talks about James Brown talking about the one. Most dance records are on the backbeat, like Michael Jackson -- or any dance record, really.

READ MORE: Eurythmics Finally Make It With 'Sweet Dreams'

But “Sweet Dreams” is on the one, [Stewart imitates the rhythm] and it comes around. Now, that’s weird for a dance record. But it’s not, if you go back to James Brown, “Sex Machine” or any of those songs, he’s got it on the one. Bootsy talks about the one, almost like, the worship of the one. But he means on the one, you know? That also, I think, makes it stand out in front of the other songs coming on the radio. It starts with that big boom -- and then of course, the refrain and the lyrics repeated, but there’s always this twist in the lyrics. A lot of people are dancing around thinking it's joyous, but if you were to read the lyrics, it’s not joyous at all! It’s talking about the state of the world -- and is this how it’s really meant to be? Is this our sweet dream?

Watch Eurythmics' Video For 'Sweet Dreams'


How did Eurythmics end up covering Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" in that Sweet Dreams era?
I’ve always been a Lou Reed fan. I became great friends with him. But in 1971, I was 20 years old and Harvest came out by Neil Young. Lou released Transformer, Hunky Dory came out from David Bowie. You know it was this world where a young guy moved to London, had a record deal, signed to Island Music by Chris Blackwell. Suddenly, these albums come out. You’re lying on your back in the flat, completely stoned or whatever. Hallucinating. You put on “Life On Mars” by David Bowie or “Satellite of Love,” all of those records, your mind was just blown. There’s an earlier period, Annie and I both, you know, she’s from Aberdeen [in Scotland], up North -- and I was from Sunderland [England] up North. We had [this music], they called it Northern Soul, but they were already copying Stax and stuff like that.

Hearing songs by Sam & Dave -- or whoever -- blew both of our minds. Motown and all of the different kinds of music. We tried to cram it all into our career of eight albums. [Laughs] Funny enough, we didn’t seem to lose audience as much until we went really far out there. Like, with “Beethoven (I Love to Listen to)” [from 1987’s Savage]. You know, the audience followed us. Normally, if a band is really famous for a certain thing and then the next thing is completely different, they might be in jeopardy of half the audience falling away. On this tour with Bryan Adams -- and the tour I did in Europe with the Eurythmics songs with my band -- the whole audience, every single song, they were just like, boom.

You're currently in the midst of that tour with Bryan, playing songs from your catalog here in the States for the first time in a long while. How did you put this new band together?
What happened was that Nile Rodgers asked me to play to end this festival called Meltdown in London, which goes on for two or three weeks and it’s curated by somebody. He said, “Hey, how would you like to do all of the Eurythmics songs and just invite guests and have a celebration of the songs? I didn’t know this, but he was telling me that when he and David Bowie, when they were working together, they used to talk about our songs and structures and stuff.

I put that together, but I’m sort of fanatical about making everything [a proper production]. You know, I can’t just play a one-off, “Oh, let’s just jam. “ So I made this film on a long screen that was interconnected with the songs. I had great players and it got fantastic reviews. At the end, I thought, “Oh, well, maybe I should take this on the road.” That was exactly when COVID started. So I forgot all about it. When [2023 happened] with all of the inductions and the anniversary [of Sweet Dreams], I thought, “Oh yeah, that show! I’ll pull it out again!” Last time, it was all just different guests coming on.

So I thought, “You know what? I’m going to make an all-female power band that has amazing girl musicians and powerhouse singers.” Not try and replace Annie with one -- it’s like three singers, who step forward. All of the band members, the soloists, come to the front. So when you’re watching it, the songs start to come alive in a different way. How I got those players…I’ve done this quite a few times, was just through contacting them all via direct message on Instagram. [Laughs] They all came together and we only did about two days of rehearsing and launched into playing the London Palladium and all over Europe. It was an amazing tour.

It seems like you still really enjoy what you do.
I've always loved playing live, even when I wasn't touring. I would do like, Dave Stewart and Friends at the Troubadour. I wouldn't know who "the friends" were going to be, I'd just do it every three months. Amazing artists would turn up to sing or play -- some of them without rehearsal. Sometimes, I'd have a small gospel choir on the stage and I'd play songs I'd just written the night before. I just love playing guitar, playing music and writing songs. I love the whole thing. But I do actually love touring. I like being on a bus, looking out the window and writing. A lot of the people I've worked with, some of them can't stand it -- and some of them are the same. You know, [Bob] Dylan loves being on his bus. He's probably had a few, but the one that I was in, it's almost like Dylan World. [Laughs] He has great books and it's like a mini-library. Everybody has their own way that they want to travel or perform. But some people, it's just a very natural thing to keep zooming around the world. For other people, it's like, "Eh, that's the only bit I don't like."

Watch Dave Stewart Discuss 'Eurythmics Songbook'

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